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[PT 11.

6 (2010) 826-845] doi:10.1558/poth.v11i6.826

Political Theology (print) ISSN 1462-317X Political Theology (online) ISSN 1473-1719

MUSLIm CONTESTATIONS OVER RELIGION AND THE STATE IN THE MIDDLE EAST Reza Pankhurst1
PhD Candidate Department of Government London School of Economics and Political Science Houghton Street London WC2A 2AR UK r.pankhurst@lse.ac.uk

ABSTRaCT
With the future of the Middle East uncertain and unstable, claims to holding the authentic Islamic understanding of the role of religion in politics remain competed over in a political struggle for support, with sides believing that whoever can articulate the authenticity of their vision of government would become more able to influence public opinion. While one train of thought posits Islamic governance as an authentic and correct form of polity for the region which would bring about accountable, elected government, the other claims that Islam is fundamentally silent on the issue of the state, and that notions of an Islamic state or caliphate are in fact dictatorial and antithetical to orthodox Islam, though Islamic values can inform the individual in their role as a citizen within a democratic state. This article will briefly examine the genealogy of these two competing claims from a Sunni Muslim perspective after examining the dominant approaches to analysing political Islamic groups, while also questioning whether it is fundamentally necessary to insert democratic ideals into such a discussion. Keywords: caliphate; comparative politics; democracy; Islam; state. You may describe it by any modern technical term you choose. You may call it secular, or democratic, or theocratic. We will not fight for giving it a particular name. What we do insist upon is its content. So long as we claim to believe in Islam and to accept it as 1. Reza Pankhurst is a PhD Candidate at the London School of Economics, Government Department, where he also teaches and lectures on the undergraduate course States, Nations and Empires.
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our way of life, our System of Government should essentially be based on the fundamentals prescribed by the Quran and by the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him). Abul Ala Maududi2

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Islamic groups of varying methodologies such as the Muslim Brotherhood and Jamaat-e-islami and Hizb ut-Tahrir who have been advocating the establishment of Islamic government for decades have often been claimed to represent a minority or fringe element. Any elections contested by those running on Islamic platforms have had mixed results. Nonetheless, the Middle East and wider Islamic world has been experiencing a consistent growth of popularity for notions of politics based firmly upon Islamic teachings as a result of increased religiosity. Much of the discussion, whether by those advocating Islamic or alternatively secular government, has adopted discourse leaning on the separate traditions of Islam and democracy to come to differing conceptions and conclusions about the role of Islam and the state. While those calling for an Islamic state with an elected, accountable leader claim that their visions are rooted firmly in Islamic tradition, those against such an idea of a state or caliphate claim that such conceptions have always been disputable or even false, and that to believe in such a polity is to believe in an authoritarian, unaccountable sovereign figure. With the future of the Middle East uncertain, alongside the increase in religiosity, claims to holding the authentic Islamic understanding on the issue are contested in a political struggle for support, with those who can articulate the authenticity of their vision of government more able to influence public opinion. This article will briefly examine the genealogy of these claims from a Sunni Muslim perspective after examining the dominant approaches to analysing political Islamic groups, while also questioning whether it is fundamentally necessary to insert democratic ideals into such a discussion. Shiite thought is excluded from this discussion as it holds some fundamentally different concepts of Islamic leadership such as the idea that the leader of the Muslim nation is decided by revelation, and therefore warrants its own separate consideration. Muslims, Islam and Liberal Democracy Research supported by the United States Department of Homeland Security conducted in 2007 found that an average of 71 per cent of those interviewed across four Muslim countries (Egypt, Morocco, Indonesia and Pakistan) agreed with the goal of requiring strict application of Sharia law
2. Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi, First Principles of the Islamic State (Lahore: Islamic Publications, 1997), 7273.
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in every Islamic country, with 39 per cent agreeing strongly, while 65 per cent agreed with the goal of unifying all Islamic countries into a single state or caliphate in line with classical orthodox Islamic position that holds that there should be a single ruler for the Muslim community. The same research found that 74 per cent wanted to keep Western values out of Islamic countries, and yet 75 per cent held positive views of globalization while 67 per cent believed that a democratic political system was a good thing.3 Other research in 2006 which covered ten Muslim countries found that 79 per cent wanted Sharia incorporated as a source of legislation, while majorities in Egypt, Pakistan, Jordan and Bangladesh wanted it as the only source of legislation. Yet, at the same time, results also show that majorities also admire the West for its democracy and the overwhelming majority would include provisions for freedom of speech or allowing all citizens to express their opinion on the political, social, and economic issues of the day if they were drafting a new constitution.4 Can it be that Muslims really want a democratic state with the Sharia as its basis? Could such a model work within the existing nation-state framework, and how would it correspond to the aspiration of unifying Islamic countries under a single caliphate? John Esposito and Dalia Mogahed write that though those surveyed showed they admired aspects of Western democracy, they did not want wholesale adoption of Western models of democracy, and suggest instead that they seem to want their own democratic model that incorporates Sharia.5 This is reflected in a lot of thinking in the Middle East by Islamic scholars and intellectuals, termed New Islamists by Raymond Baker, with their belief that democracy in modern times affords the best means to justice.6 Not only in the Middle East, Muslim intellectuals in the Western tradition have also formulated their own ideas about how polity in the Islamic world should be organized. There are those who talk about a separation between religion and the state, though not politics, with Islamic values informing the views of the Muslim part of the population, such as Heba Ezza,7 Abdullah
3. WorldPublicOpinion.org, Muslim Public Opinion on US Policy, Attacks on Civilians and Al-Qaeda (The Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland, 2007). 4. Dalia Mogahed, Special Report: Muslim WorldIslam and Democracy (Washington, DC: Gallup Center for Muslim Studies, 2006). 5. John L. Esposito and Dalia Mogahed, Who Speaks for Islam? What a Billion Muslims Really Think: Based on Gallups World Pollthe Largest Study of Its Kind (New York: Gallup Press, 2007), 48. 6. Raymond William Baker, Islam without Fear: Egypt and the New Islamists (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2003), 171. 7. Heba Raouf Ezza and Ahmed Mohammed Abdalla, Towards an Islamically Democractic Solution, in Faith and Secularism, ed. Valrie Amiraux and Rosemary Bechler (London: British Council, 2004).
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Nam8 and Mohammad Ashmawi.9 Abdelwahab El-Affendi talks about the self-evident advantages of democracy,10 while Asma Afsaruddin thinks that many in the Islamic world want to live as observant Muslims at the same time as living in democratic societies.11 Muqtedar Khan firmly states that Muslims must widely and unambiguously accept that Islam and democracy are compatible; those who do so are approvingly referred to as Muslim democrats whereas others are scolded as Muslim isolationists.12 Others such as Khaled Abou el Fadl make the case for liberal democracy as the most effective form of government to protect and promote Islamic values, while part of the premise of Nams work is to prove that Muslims can be liberal in their own right, from an Islamic perspective.13 But, as mentioned by Saba Mahmood in her response to Abou El-Fadl, rather than ask how Muslims could become better liberals, can we not ask whether the world could be lived differently, with alternative visions being explored rather than succumbing to the hegemony of Western political ideals.14 It is this hegemony that needs to be taken into account if the positions of Muslims, whether intellectuals, politicians or otherwise, are to be understood correctly. This hegemony of the superiority and universality of democracy has underlain much of the approach to analysing the politics of Islamic individuals and groups across the Middle East and general Muslim world. Briefly, analysts normally fall into two broad camps, widely known as the Orientalists on one side and their detractors on the other, alternatively named essentialists and contingencists15 or internalists and externalists.16 The common narrative is that the Orientalists hold a
8. Abd Allah Ahmad Nam, Islam and the Secular State: Negotiating the Future of Sharia (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2008). 9. Mohammad Said Ashmawi, Al-Islam Wal-Siyasa (Beirut: Al-intishar al-Arabi, 2004). 10. Abdelwahab El-Affendi, Who Needs an Islamic State? (London: Malaysia Think Tank London, 2008), 34. 11. Asma Afsaruddin, The Islamic State: Genealogy, Facts, and Myths, Journal of Church and State 48, no. 1 (2006): 15373. 12. M. A. Muqtedar Khan, The Politics, Theory and Philosophy of Islamic Democracy, in Islamic Democratic Discourse: Theory, Debates, and Philosophical Perspectives, ed. M. A. Muqtedar Khan (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2006). 13. Nam, Islam and the Secular State, 269. 14. Khaled Abou El-Fadl et al., Islam and the Challenge of Democracy (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004). 15. Fred Halliday, The Politics of Islama Second Look, British Journal of Political Science 25, no. 3 (1995): 4001. 16. Peter R. Demant, Islam vs. Islamism : The Dilemma of the Muslim World (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2006), 181200.
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limited set of conceptual categories derived from the classical texts of Islam that are applied universally in their analysis of political Islam,17 whereas their opponents view such an approach as reductionist and rather argue that the various social movements and developments should be understood as the product of particular local socioeconomic and political woes.18 The first approach generally views the incompatibility of Islam and modernity as the trigger for regional discontent and the support for various Islamic movements, whereas the second contends that factors such as the failure of secular nationalist movements to resolve the societal problems of poverty and denial of political representation are the main causes of the backlash. While some Orientalists consider that any calls for democracy by Islamic parties are purely utilitarian in nature,19 their opponents consider that any reference back to Islamic tradition by such parties are in fact a tactical instrument or simply a call for participation and better governance articulated in a more authentic form.20 However, for all their differences and arguments, since the end of the Cold War both sides implicitly make liberal democracy the ultimate reference in their approach to analysis, such that Michael Salla notes that the relationship between liberal democracy and political Islam is unidirectional: Political Islam either responds to liberal democratic norms by demonstrating their consistency with the Islamic heritage; or reacts to them as contrary to the Islamic heritage.21 As such, the two schools of thought could also be categorized as those who believe in the incompatibility of Islam and liberal democracy, and those who argue its compatibility, with both sides implicitly accepting the assumption of the universality of liberal democratic norms. This assumption is standard fare, with undergraduate books on comparative politics dividing governments into democratic on the one hand, with various models and shades, and anything completely outside the democratic category generally considered authoritarian.22 The promotion of democracy is considered to be an explicit objective of the West, and it could
17. Michael E. Salla, Political Islam and the West: A New Cold War or Convergence? Third World Quarterly 18, no. 4 (1997): 730. 18. Elizabeth Shakman Hurd, Political Islam and Foreign Policy in Europe and the United States, Foreign Policy Analysis 3 (2007): 34567. 19. David Brumberg, Rhetoric and Strategy: Islamic Movements and Democracy in the Middle East, in The Islamism Debate, ed. Martin Kramer (New York: Syracuse University Press, 1997), 15. 20. John L. Esposito, Unholy War (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), 54. 21. Salla, Political Islam, 737. 22. E.g. Rod Hague and Martin Harrop, Comparative Government and Politics: An Introduction, 6th ed. (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004).
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be argued that for any political discussion to be taken seriously requires the adoption of the slogans that aspire towards democracy and freedom. Alternatively it could be argued that the adoption of such slogans, whether by the general Muslim population or Islamic movements, obscures what is really being said by all sides involved. For example, as mentioned previously, research has shown that some Muslims simultaneously believe in having Sharia as the only source of legislation while believing that a democratic political system is a good thing. To highlight the issue further, while research shows that 94 per cent of Egyptians polled would put freedom of speech in any new constitution they were charged with drafting,23 71 per cent from another poll believed that the government should have the right to fine or imprison people who publicly criticize a religion, because such criticism could defame the religion.24 Just as the apparent belief in democracy must be qualified, the profession of belief in freedom of speech must also be qualified. These differing conceptions extend to thinkers and activists. El-Affendi mentions three trends among Muslim thinkersthose who enthusiastically espouse the ideas of democracy and claim compatibility with Islam; those who accept democratic procedures, but voice philosophical objections to democracy and put limits to ensure conformity to Sharia; and those who reject it.25 If these three positions were unpacked the first position could be generally explained as those who claim compatibility between Islam and democracy, intending by their assertion of compatibility that sovereignty for legislation lies with the people rather than with a monarch or an elite class (with or without reference to natural law). This group who could be referred to as the Muslim secularists, which includes some of those mentioned such as Nam and Ashmawi, believes that all decisions are subject to popular sovereignty, though the opinions of the people may be informed by their personal religious beliefs. They also generally consider that there is nothing called an Islamic state, which they view as an historical construct (although they will differ over when it was constructed, with some considering it a purely modernist phenomenon), that there are no clear political instructions in the original Islamic sources of the Quran and Sunnah (authenticated traditions of the Prophet Mohammad), and that those who believe in an Islamic state or caliphate articulate a model where the ruler of such a state is a type of
23. Mogahed, Special Report: Muslim WorldIslam and Democracy. 24. WorldPublicOpinion.org, Defamation of Religion (The Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland, 2009). 25. Abdelwahab El-Affendi, On the State, Democracy and Pluralism, in Islamic Thought in the 20th Century, ed. Basheer M. Nafi and Suha Taji-Farouki (London: I.B. Taurus, 2004), 189.
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autocrat who derives his authority from God directly and therefore must be obeyed. Members of the second group, such as the well-known Egyptian scholar Yusuf al-Qaradawi, claim that there is a compatibility between Islam and democracy since the heart of democracy is that the people choose who will rule them and manage their affairs, while they should not have a ruler or system they hate forced upon them, that they have the right to account the ruler and the ability to change or remove him if he goes astray.26 However, while these are some of the values of a democratic system, this conception says nothing about the sovereignty of the people to rule which is arguably the fundamental core of rule by the people. Qaradawi simultaneously holds that ruling must be by the law of God, and further claims that this principle is firmly established and uncontested in Islam, and, indeed, that it forms the basis for the Islamic state.27 In other words, through his understanding of the values of Islamic and democratic rule, Qaradawi thinks he has identified an overlap, and consequently sees no problem in talking about their compatibility. This group sees no specific Islamic ruling system beyond some general principles though they do assert that Sharia should be implemented in its entirety, and so the shape and form of the Islamic state remains, for them, largely undefined, even though many (like Qaradawi) maintain the principle of a single, unified leadership or caliphate state for all Muslims. The third group, which includes scholars such as Taqiudeen anNabahani who founded the Islamic political party Hizb ut-Tahrir, denies the compatibility of democracy with Islam in origin. At the same time, they believe that the ruler of the state should be elected, that the people have the right or even duty to account their rulers, and that the ruler can be removed. In other words, they believe in the values that Qaradawi has claimed as being democratic, but they reject democracy because they consider that it is the idea of popular sovereignty that contradicts the foundation of the Islamic state, where, they argue, sovereignty lies with God or the Sharia.28 In effect, there is no real difference between the second and third group on their view of the commonly held philosophical underpinning of democracy, other than the use of terminology. Though between the two groups there are different conceptions of how detailed the Islamic system of ruling is and to what extent institutions can be
26. Yusuf al-Qaradawi, Min Fiqh Al-Dawla Fil-Islam (Cairo: Dar al-Sharouq, 1997), 132. 27. Ibid., 102. 28. See, for example, Abdul Qadeem az-Zalloom, Nitham Al-Hukm Fil-Islam (Beirut: Dar al-Ummah, 1996), 31.
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borrowed, this is inconsequential to their understanding of democracy as a set of values. In conclusion, for the sake of this particular discussion if democracy is understood to mean popular sovereignty then there appear to be in effect only two schools of thought regarding it: the Muslim Secularists who deny Islamic government while affirming politics being informed by general notions of Islam and that sovereignty lies with the people, and those who believe in Islamic government based upon the principle that sovereignty lies with God, or more precisely the Law of God, the Sharia. The Genealogy of the Muslim Secularists As mentioned, the secularists for their part consider that Islam has nothing to say about the state, that any conception of an Islamic state or a caliphate is a non-religious construction and that to believe in such a form of government is to believe in an authoritarian, unaccountable sovereign figure. The genealogy of such views within Islamic scholarship can be traced back to Ali Abdul Raziq, an al-Azhar graduate from a political family in Egypt who founded the Liberal Constitutionalist party. Raziq wrote a book called Al-Islaam Wa Usool Al-Hukm29 (Islam and the Fundamentals of Ruling) published in 1925 in the wake of the formal abolition of the position of the Ottoman Caliph by Mustafa Kemal. All of the central contentions raised by the Muslim Secularists were raised by Raziq in this initial work; according to Mohammad Amara, up until that point secularism had been seen as a purely European solution to a European problem which had no promoters in the Middle East except for a small section of the community known to blindly imitate the Western culture. On the other hand Raziq appeared as a critic dressed in Islamic clothing, who compared the rule of the Caliphate to the rule of the Church, and so for him secularism became an Islamic solution to an Islamic problem.30 Raziqs book flew in the face of Islamic orthodoxy which had generally considered the caliphate to be a religious obligation, whereas to Raziq it had nothing to do with the deen (religion), but beyond that even the judiciary and other governmental positions were secular and purely political issues, since the deen neither knows it nor denies it, and has no commandments regarding it nor any prohibitions but rather it has
29. Ali Abdul-Raziq, Al-Islaam Wa Usool Al-Hukm, in Al-Islaam Wa Usool AlHukmDarasa Wa Wathaiq, ed. Mohammad Amara (Beirut: Al-Muasasa al-Arabiyya li al-darasat wa al-nashr, 1972). 30. Mohammad Amara, Maraka Al-Islam Wa Usool Al-Hukm (Cairo: Dar al-Sharook, 1997), 171.
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only left it for us, to return back to rules of rationality.31 According to Raziq, the classical views of leadership were that the Caliph either took his authority from God directly, or from the Umma (Muslim nation), and he compared this to the two European schools of thought of Hobbes and Locke,32 with Raziq claiming that the mainstream view held that the Caliph took his authority from God. In discussing some of the numerous prophetic narrations relating to laws, the caliphate and the baya (pledge of allegiance between the ruler and those he ruled), Raziq referred to the Bible and the words attributed to Jesus to render to God what belongs to God, and render to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, explaining that everything which came in these narrations of the Prophet mentioning the leadership and the caliphate and the baya do not indicate anything more than what Jesus was indicating when he mentioned some rules of legislation about Caesars government. He rejected several of the other proofs generally used to validate the orthodox position stating the obligation of the caliphate in a similar manner. While Raziq was forced to admit that the leadership of the Prophet Mohammad had some aspects that are similar to the apparent characteristics of a political government, including collecting and distributing taxes which as he stated are amongst the most important pillars of government, he linked those and similar actions to the role of the Prophet Mohammad as a Prophet of God, that meant he was only one who has that position and no one else can share in it.33 This is echoed by el-Affendi who criticizes the orthodox formulations of the caliphate which attempted to assign the rule of the Prophet to ordinary men.34 Historically, the state at the time of the Prophet was an Islamic unity and not a political unity with the leadership of the Messenger between them a religious leadership and their subservience to him was one of belief, not subservience to government and authority.35 The rule of those who came after the death of the Prophet, including the first generation of Muslims, was not connected to the Message and was not established upon the deen, and rather than being an Islamic state it was in fact an imperial Arab entity.36 The caliphate, according to Raziq, was only ever, and still remains, a calamity upon Islam and Muslims.37 He finished by urging that nothing in the deen prohibits the Muslims from competing
31. 32. 33. 34. 35. 36. 37. Abdul-Raziq, Usool Al-Hukm, 182. Ibid., 11720. Ibid., 145, 46, 48, 57. El-Affendi, Islamic State, 66. Abdul-Raziq, Usool Al-Hukm, 163. Ibid., 1745. Ibid., 136.

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with other nations and to destroy that obsolete system which they debase and submit themselves to while building the fundamentals of their leadership, and the system of government, upon the most modern of what has been produced by human minds.38 The publication of his book caused a stir within religious circles in particular, and Raziq was summoned in front of the Council of Grand Scholars in order for his work to be evaluated by twenty-four of his peers. On November 12, 1925, a ruling was published with the unanimous decision to censure Raziq and to remove his qualification as an Islamic scholar. His claims such as that Islam was a purely spiritual religion, that the system of ruling in Islam was unclear and that the rule applied by the early generations of Muslim leaders were not based upon the deen were considered heretical, and the council ruled that it is enough that his innovation puts him in the ranks of the khawarij39 and not in the ranks of the masses of the Muslims.40 Raziq conceded that his views were unorthodox at the time, but claimed that he had simply created a new school of thought in the issue.41 His family and supporters from the Liberal Constitutionalists and party newspapers rallied around him and against the ruling, claiming that the issue at stake was one of freedom of speech. Other major Egyptian politicians had very different opinions, such as Egyptian nationalist and head of the Wafd party Saad Zaghloul who said in private that he was amazed first of all by how could a scholar of Islam write in this manner on this issue, and even though he had read a lot from Orientalists and those similar to them he never came across anyone from them who attacked Islam with such an anger. In the end Zaghloul felt that Raziq was ignorant of the fundamentals of the deen since if not, then how could he claim that Islam is not a civilisation, and that it does not have a system suitable for rule?42 The views of Raziq were largely rejected at the time and remain outside of Islamic orthodoxy. The Muslim Secularist arguments which promote a secular form of government from within Islamic tradition
38. Ibid., 182. 39. The Khawarij were an early sect of Islam which emerged during the conflict between Ali and Muawiyya who held several beliefs contrary to the orthodox position such as anyone who commits a major sin is destined for eternal hellfire. 40. The Council of Senior Scholars, The Ruling of the Council of Senior Scholars Regarding the Book Islam and the Fundamentals of Ruling12/8/1925, in Maraka AlIslam Wa Usool Al-Hukm, ed. Mohammad Amara (Cairo: Dar al-Sharook, 1997), 126. 41. Ali Abdul-Raziq, Opinion Regarding the Ruling of the Council of Senior Scholars 3/9/1925, in Maraka Al-Islam Wa Usool Al-Hukm, ed. Mohammad Amara (Cairo: Dar al-Sharook, 1997). 42. Amara, Maraka, 150.
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while dismissing the basis for those who claim the necessity for Islamic government are largely in line with the contentions and proposals initially raised in his book. In particular, his claim that the position and system of caliphate as an un-Islamic construct with the ruler being considered an unaccountable sovereign in their own right with a mandate directly from God is directly identifiable in their work, though the level of open support for Raziq may sometimes be understandably muted due to the reputation that precedes him up until today. The Genealogy of the Islamic Statists or Caliphatists The ideas of Muslim scholars such as Nabahani and Qaradawi are in clear opposition to the secularists, and they promote the concept that there is no separation between the deen (religion) and the dowla (state). They also believe that sovereignty belongs to God or more specifically to the Sharia, and that the ruler is elected and accountable for applying the law. As noted by Afsaruddin, they assert that the genealogy of the concepts of Islamic government extend back to the first century of Islam, something she and others like Nam contest, challenging the illusion of an Islamic state that claims the right to enforce Sharia principles through its own coercive power.43 In order to test this claim, we will look at a small selection of the opinions of Muslim scholars and prominent personalities, starting from the early part of the twentieth century through to the opinions of scholars who first wrote on the theory of the Islamic caliphate formally. These opinions will be taken as an understanding of what they considered to be the normative Islamic position on these issues, since it is well known that the practice of government and governance throughout Islamic history has often fallen short of the ideals professed. However, since most of the articulators and proponents of an Islamic state or caliphate are not advocating the reinstitution of a government based upon the model of the Ottoman, Abbasid or Umayyad periods but rather upon the (believed) practice of the Prophet and the first generation of Muslims, we are concerned with the genealogy of these claims and whether they can be traced back and justified from orthodox Islamic sources, or whether they are in fact constructions of subsequent eras. As mentioned previously the formal abolition of the caliphate and the publication of Raziqs book led to a reassertion of the Orthodox position by the scholars at the time that the caliphate was considered to be an Islamic obligation. The many refutations all challenged Raziqs claim that the majority opinion in classical literature was that the Caliph derived his
43. Nam, Islam and the Secular State, 6.

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authority from God, with by way of example Tunisian scholar Mohammad ibn Ashoor stating that it has never been said by anyone from the scholars of Islam that the Caliph takes his power from God. Rather than being the representative of God on earth, ibn Ashoor claimed there was no difference amongst scholars that the Caliph was the appointed representative (wakeel) of the Muslim nation.44 He goes on to claim that the caliphate was an expression of the government of the Islamic nation, the necessary sovereign power to protect the community and the establishment of the Islamic State upon its basis. He also believed that Islam is supported by the State and that its state is part of it because of the mixing of religion (deen) with the state (dowla) in Islamic belief.45 In fact we find several scholars of all hues making pronouncements such as early post-Ottoman era scholar al-Kawtheris statement that the attempt to separate the deen from the dowla is open heresy.46 The position of mainstream orthodoxy on the subject of sovereignty laying with the Sharia and the Caliph being an appointed representative can be summarized in the statement of the Sheikh al-Azhar at the time that the caliphate was the Muslim nations representative who was appointed by them in order to establish their worldly and religious matters according to the Book of God and the Sunnah of the Messenger of God.47 Not satisfied with generalities, he also wrote more than 100 pages detailing several aspects of the Prophetic government, in order to highlight the details that Raziq had claimed were lacking. These assertions were nothing new, but were simply a reference back to orthodoxy found articulated in detail by the eleventh century. Islamic international relations were based upon a dichotomous dar paradigm, with the concept of dar al-Islam (abode of Islam) referring to the fundamental idea that any territory that came under the authority of Islamic law was part of the dar. This entity was therefore considered to be territorially based with the rule of law applying over the territory under the authority of the central executive, in effect an early theory of a territorial stateas mentioned by Mohammad Shaybani, a dar becomes the dar of the Muslims through the application of the laws of the Muslims, and so the Imam makes it dar al-Islam.48 The most famous exposition of the tenth-century
44. Mohammad Al-Tahir ibn Ashoor, Naqd Ilmy Likitab Al-Islam Wa Usool Al-Hukm (Cairo: Maktaba al-Salafiyya, 1925), 4. 45. Ibid., 11. 46. Salah al-Saawi, Usool Al-Iman (Falls Church, VA: American Open University, 2003), 225. 47. Mohammad Bakhit Al-Muteei, Haqiqa Al-Islam Wa Usool Al-Hukm (Cairo: AlMatbaa al-Salifiyya, 1925), 56. 48. Mohammad Shaybani, Al-Sayar Al-Kabeer (Beirut: Dar Al-Kotob Al-ilmiyah, 1997), vol. 5, 327.
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jurist Abul Hasan Ali al-Mawardi who claimed that the establishment of the caliphate was an Islamic obligation agreed upon by the scholars.49 His treatise al-Ahkam al-Sultaniyya (the rules of governance) remains one of the major classical references for Islamic political theory. In it, he explains that the ruler is either elected by the peoples representatives or through being nominated by the previous Caliph. The Caliphs responsibilities include implementing the hudood (punishments explicitly proscribed in Islam for acts such as theft, rebellion, public acts of extra-marital intercourse), collecting and distributing the taxes according to the Sharia prescriptions, and to protect and expand the borders of the Islamic state. There is a contract, known as baya, between the Caliph and those who elected him, that basically pledges allegiance to him as long as he fulfils his responsibilities to rule by the Quran and Sunnah. Though there are differences over the validity of those who usurp the power, the majority consensus is that baya is not contracted without consent and choice.50 These ideas were not articulated by Mawardi alone. His claim of a consensus upon the obligation of the caliphate is mirrored by everyone else who wrote on the subject in the period. Afsaruddin claims that when Raziq had claimed that the caliphate was not obligatory he was hardly expressing an original point of view, mentioning her belief that there was a diversity of opinions on the matter prior to the post-Mawardi period.51 She takes her view from the statement of the tenth-century Mutazila52 scholar Abul Hasan Abdul Jabbar who wrote that there were three opinions regarding the caliphatethe first being that it was not obligatory. However, a further reading of Abdul Jabbar informs us that those who held the opinion which rejected it as being obligatory were the heretical sect of the Khawarij, and therefore their rejection is not taken into consideration. The phrase he uses is that there is a consensus on [the caliphate] being obligatory and any opposition against this consensus is rejected since the khawarij and those upon their methodology are not taken into consideration.53
49. Abul Hasan Ali al-Mawardi, Al-Ahkam Al-Sultaniyya (Beirut: Dar Al-Kotob Alilmiya, n.d.). 50. Ibid., 919. 51. Afsaruddin, The Islamic State, 171. 52. The Mutazila sect, which flourished between the eighth and tenth century, took the Islamic creed and Sharia as their ultimate reference point, but believed that the wisdom behind the Sharia could be rationally explained and held numerous beliefs considered outside of traditional Sunni orthodoxy linked to issues such as Creation of Quran and predestination. 53. Abul Hasan Abdul Jabbar, Al-Mugni Fee Abwabul-Tawheed Wal-Adl, ed. AbdulHalim Mahmud and Sulayman Dunya, vol. 20 (Cairo), 48.
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It is therefore clear that even members of the Mutazila sect such as Abdul Jabbar did not consider rejection of the obligation of the caliphate by fringe elements of the community a legitimate opinion which had any space within Islamic tradition. This is rather ironic, since contemporary writers who deny the caliphate being a religious duty often claim that scholars such as Maududi who articulated a belief in the sovereignty of God were following in the footsteps of the khawarij, a pejorative statement, while denial of the Islamic obligation of the caliphate is a position held mainly by the Khawarij and seemingly considered outside of traditional orthodoxy54 not even accepted by the mainstream of the Mutazila. Even though Mawardi and most classical Sunni authors on the caliphate mention that the Mutazila believed that the obligation of the caliphate was based on reason rather than revelation, Abdul-Jabbar also criticizes those who claim that the caliphate was an obligation based upon rational proofs alone as being enemies of the religion, which indicates that the Mutazila position is not as straightforward as commonly labelled in traditional Sunni literature on the caliphate, but rather was likely based upon the legal maxim whatever leads to an obligation is therefore obligatory. This is borne out by Abdul-Jabbars justification for his position on the caliphate by stating that as the hudood punishments must be carried out, and that since it is an agreed-upon condition that the only entity legally entrusted with the application of such punishments was the Imam (leader) alone, it is therefore necessary to ensure the existence of such an Imam to fulfil that role.55 Early political treatises written to advise the Islamic government can be found dating back to the eighth century, when for example, the Persian scholar Abdullah ibn al-Muqaffa argued that government only merited obedience if it obeyed Quran and Sunnah.56 Recourse to some of ibn al-Muqaffas original text finds him telling the ruler that he has the sole responsibility for applying the hudood and other rules from the Sharia, and that whoever disobeys the Imam in those issues or abandons him is blameworthy, which can only mean that he considered establishing a ruler to govern as obligatory since it was the only way for the rules of Islam to be applied, a similar argument to that mentioned already by Abdul Jabbar three centuries later. Ibn al-Muqaffa also held the ruler accountable for applying the Sharia and stated that if he prohibited prayer and fasting and
54. Abdul Rahman bin Ahmed al-Egee, Al-Mawaqif Fi Ilm Al-Kalam (Beirut: Aalim al-Kutub, n.d.), 395; Jabbar, Al-Mugni Fee Abwabul-Tawheed Wal-Adl, 48. 55. Jabbar, Al-Mugni Fee Abwabul-Tawheed Wal-Adl, 41. 56. Ann K. S. Lambton, State and Government in Medieval Islam (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1985), 53.
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pilgrimage or prevented the hudood and permitted what Allah had made forbidden he was not to be obeyed.57 This concept of accountability based upon the rulers application of Islamic law is traced back to words attributed to one of the foremost early Muslims called Abu Bakr who was the first Caliph appointed after the death of the Prophet through the choice of the peoplein words attributed to Ali bin Abi Talib, the son-in-law of the Prophetthe Prophet did not direct us to anyone to take leadershipand so we decided upon Abu Bakr as his successor.58 Among the first words recorded by Abu Bakr after taking this position was that if I do good then support me, and if I do wrong then straighten me. In his first speech addressing the Muslim community in Medina he made it more explicit, stating obey me as long as I obeyed Allah and His Messenger, and if I sinned against them then I have no claim to obedience over you.59 Thus the precedents for elected leadership who had the consent of the governed based upon application of and adherence to the rules of Quran and Sunnah, in other words the Sharia, are found in records of the first generation of Muslim rulers. The genealogy of the idea of the necessity of an Islamic state or caliphate can justifiably be traced back to early Islamic sources. The contemporary conceptions of the role of the ruler being chosen by the people to rule them in accordance with the dictates and prescriptions of their Islam and to be accountable accordingly can be seen as coming from the same tradition as the original classical caliphate theory, basing them on what they consider to be an authentic understanding of the original sources of revelation accepted by mainstream Islam. Without going into the detailed arguments and theological justifications for their various positions regarding the structure that government would take which would require its own independent study, their theories were built upon the foundations that sovereignty was for the Sharia, that the ruler is elected and accountable for applying Islamic law upon the community within the territory under their authority, and that in origin there should be a single ruler for the Muslims as a nation.60

57. Mohammad Kurd Ali, Rasail Al-Bulughaa (Cairo: Dar al-Kutub al-Arabiyya alKubra, 1913). 58. Abul Fidaa ibn Kathir al-Dimashqi, Al-Bidaiyat Wal-Nihaiyat (Beirut: Dar AlKotob Al-ilmiyah, 2003), vol. 5, 272. 59. Ibid., vol. 5, 270. 60. The consensus within traditional belief in the origin of the necessity of a singular overall Caliph or Imam for the whole Muslim nation is mentioned by both Abdul Jabbar and al-Mawardi.
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The Rule of Law, Consent and AccountabilityDemocratic? At this point, given that the genealogy of such claims is demonstrably strong it is worth reconsidering the visions of those proposing an Islamic state or caliphate and how they conceive of the basis of the Islamic constitution, the relationship between the rulers and ruled, and how politics should proceed in such a state. The most explicit proponents of the caliphate upon the orthodox theory mentioned thus far are Hizb ut-Tahrir. Their detractors would consider them to be the most anti-democratic, and their vision of the caliphate the most dictatorial, and so it is useful to briefly consider their understanding of the role of the Caliph and his relationship with his subjects. Apparently in line with the classical position, they consider the caliphate to be a contract of consent and choice. The choice of the people is to be found through a process of nomination and election carried out by a directly elected council named the majlis al-ummah (the Ummah council)61 in a manner which appears to be largely inspired by the practice which occurred at the time of the nomination and selection of the third Caliph Uthman bin Affan.62 Regarding the contractual basis between the Caliph and the people, in the book The Ruling System, their second leader Abdul Qadeem azZalloom writes that unlike the monarchies of Saudi Arabia and Jordan where the King is effectively the owner of the country and the source of its laws, the Caliph has no special privileges or rights and is subject to the law as any other citizen since he is their representativein ruling and authority with his selection being from the people who give him their pledge of allegiance willingly in order to implement the Sharia of God upon them. Therefore the Caliph is restricted in all his actions, judgments and looking after the affairs of the Muslim nation by the Sharia and he only takes his position when the Muslim nation willingly gives him the pledge of allegiance.63 At the same time, accounting the ruler is an obligation upon the Muslims, and even if there are prophetic narrations which council patience if the ruler acts unjustly, this is taken to mean that obeying them is obligatory while at the same time holding them accountable for their actions is obligatory as well. This accounting is to take place through
61. Hizb ut-Tahrir, Muqadimma Al-Dustoor Al-Qism Al-Awwal (Beirut: Dar al-Umma, 2009), 145. 62. For narration of the events leading to the election of Uthman bin Affan as Caliph based upon the opinions of the people of Medina, refer to: al-Dimashqi, Al-Bidaiyat WalNihaiyat, vol. 7, 14042. 63. az-Zalloom, Nitham Al-Hukm Fil-Islam, 312.
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personal means, the establishment of political parties to hold the ruler to account, a consultative council of elected representatives and an independent court which would deal with cases against the executive.64 However, if the ruler went beyond personal malpractice and injustice and extended their actions to implementing un-Islamic laws, in other words laws which ran in contrary to what was agreed in the baya agreement between them and the people, it would be obligatory to remove them at all costs whether through the courts at first or if necessary by force if they refuse to abide by the courts decision.65 It appears that their conception of the Caliph, his selection, and the contract between himself and those who chose him bear close resemblance to original orthodox theory which is claimed to be based upon original practice of the first generations of Muslims. It is these original orthodox elements (as opposed to subsequent historical practice) that were described in an article by Bernard Lewis as potentially helping democratic development, attaching importance to the classical Islamic concept of supreme sovereignty which was elective, contractual, in a sense even consensual and revocable. Of particular interest are the following passages describing his view of the theory of the baya:
The baya was thus conceived as a contract by which the subjects undertook to obey and the Caliph in return undertook to perform certain duties specified by the jurists. If a Caliph failed in those dutiesand Islamic history shows that this was by no means a purely theoretical pointhe could, subject to certain conditions, be removed from office. This doctrine marks one of the essential differences between Islamic and other autocracies. An Islamic ruler is not above the law. He is subject to it, no less than the humblest of his servants. If he commands something that is contrary to the law, the duty of obedience lapses, and is replaced not by the right but by the duty of disobedience.66

More recently, Bruce Rutherford has written that the works of theorists like Qaradawi define Islamic constitutionalism in a manner that shares many characteristics with classical liberalism and democracy, as demonstrated by their belief in the rule of law, constraints on state power and public participation in politics. Rutherfords work is perhaps one of the most thoughtful and provoking articles written on the subject of comparison between contemporary Islamic political theory and democracy, and he concludes that if democracy is considered a set of
64. Hizb ut-Tahrir, Muqadimma Al-Dustoor Qasm Al-Awwal, 171. 65. az-Zalloom, Nitham Al-Hukm Fil-Islam, 2547. 66. Bernard Lewis, Islam and Liberal Democracy, The Atlantic Monthly 271, no. 2 (1993): 89.
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institutions that constrain the state, enforce law and allow for public political participation then the two are compatible. On the other hand, if democracy is considered as a set of values such as individual liberty and popular sovereignty then the conclusion would be much more ambiguous.67 This is reflected in the work of Qaradawi who claims that Muslims can adopt the tools and institutions of democracy, without embracing its philosophy.68 While these types of comparison are potentially enlightening and help introduce Islamic ideas of government to Western audiences in a language they can understand, a perusal of Qaradawis work reveals the problems with the adoption of a redefined democratic discourse, with discussion between him and others effectively becoming arguments over terminology rather than substance, with each side claiming values of democracy such as pluralism but meaning entirely different things by them.69 There is nothing new or even specific to intra-Muslim debates in this, but submitting to or enforcing a hegemonic discourse that assumes the universality of a democracy which is in any event contested, with anything else labelled as authoritarian will hardly help in understanding what each side is positing as everyone rushes to claim the democratic mantle. When academics such as Afsaruddin hazard guesses that most Muslims want to continue living as observant Muslims today while living in a democratic society, she may well be right from a discursive point of view, but the content is what is important and remains contested. For example, Qaradawi states his own belief that those who are calling for democracy on the streets of the Middle East are rejecting dictatorship and not that sovereignty belongs to God (in the legislative sense).70 If there is a rising religiosity in the Middle East and wider Islamic world, then the perceived authenticity and genealogy of the various claims about whether Islamic government exists and what it looks like is likely to play a greater role in garnering support, though the continued imposition and participation in democratic discourse may simply dilute and undermine the authenticity of the ideas of all sides of the debate. While there are continuing discussions about the right of different cultures to develop their own indigenous form of democracy, or widening definitions of hybrid regimes, the possibility that a vision of an elected,
67. Bruce K. Rutherford, What Do Egypts Islamists Want? Moderate Islam and the Rise of Islamic Constitutionalism, Middle East Journal 60, no. 4 (2006): 7301. 68. al-Qaradawi, Min Fiqh Al-Dawla Fil-Islam, 150. 69. See for example al-Sayyed Yasin, Al-Khilafa Wal-Muaasira (Cairo: Tobgy Press, 1999). 70. al-Qaradawi, Min Fiqh Al-Dawla Fil-Islam, 139.
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accountable government can be articulated outside of the paradigm and vocabulary of universally claimed democratic ideals remains either overlooked or dismissed, arguably narrowing the potential for meaningful dialogue and understanding. BIBLIOGRaPHY
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